Giants of Enterprise Suffer From Stormannsgalskap

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In the latest Economist, Schumpeter argues that most successful men like Rupert Murdoch are psychologically unstable. The magazine quotes Richard Tedlow of Harvard Business School, who says that “‘giants of enterprise’ suffer from what Norwegians call stormannsgalskap, the madness of great men”:

Henry Ford hated Jews. George Eastman sanctioned industrial espionage. Thomas Watson turned IBM into a personality cult, complete with company songs about “our friend and guiding hand,” a man whose “courage none can stem.” Michael Milken, the inventor of junk bonds, was jailed.

The confidence that propels tycoons to revolutionise an industry is also what leads to their downfall. They “surround themselves with ‘yes men’ and family members” who further their agendas — even (and especially) when they begin to veer off course. The severity of stormannsgalskap gets worse with age.

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